My stash

I don’t know what it feels like to have everything.

I know what it feel like to have a lot. I know how terrifying that is.

I don’t know what it feels like to have everything. But I know what it’s like to have everything be the goal. And when everything’s your goal, anything is possible :)

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mee moo

She said, “I have to tell you something, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“Fine.”

She lifted the part of her hair that covers her tiny forehead. Her meaty hand revealed a small red bump.  “I went out drinking last night and fell down and hit my head on the door knob. I’m really worried people here (at work) will notice and be disappointed in me. Can you see it?”

“Only when you lift your bangs. You should be fine.”

She says, “Well, I just knew I had to tell you because you do this sort of thing sometimes. haha Anyway, how was your weekend.”

How was my weekend? Well, this weekend was one for the books, actually. I went out-of-town to blow off some steam. Met up with a friend, got hammered, went to see a bunch of local rappers perform-got a shout out!- crawled into a lesbian’s bed and freaked her out–allegedly! allegedly! Got up at 6am and drove home.  I’m having trouble dealing today because the size of the hangover I’m working off would knock you to you knees. I spent too much money pretending to be a rock star, so looks like Ramen noodles are what’s for lunch and dinner for the next five days. I haven’t had sex in over a month and I just got my period today so it looks like that won’t be happening now either. Oh. And I nicked your car when I parked this morning and you will totally know it was me.

I back out slowly and say “It was pretty boring, actually. I gotta get back to work. Good luck with that bump- you party animal!”

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When you’re here

I used to write in my room. I had a desk in there and it felt a million miles away. It came so easily. I wanted to get away and blow off some steam so I went to my room, shut the door and wrote. And what I wrote was good. I liked what I had to say. And so did you.

I drink too much. Maybe I have a problem. I yell over everything. I don’t know-maybe I need to look into that. I don’t create enough. I have a draft box full of dead elephants. Trumpet, tusks, and ears.  They are sad so I don’t go in there anymore. There is no resuscitation after death….after any sign of weakness, actually.

You come home and through a cloud of smoke and a half bottle of wine I scream at you to leave me alone. I’m creating, damn it!  I need my space. An argument ensues and whatever I thought I had has vanished. My genius poem now finishes with a  sad rhyme about everything ugly I imagine you see in me.

Today I write in the midst of it all. I write in the living room, in the kitchen, I scribble things down on a scrap paper at work.  Half of it never gets looked at again, but sometimes a thought penetrates and settles in for a bit. I try a million times before I make it stick.

Tonight, I happily imagined a room in my own house that I could go to and write in. I went online and browsed Zillow and Ikea- gathering the perfect wood for a desk in a house with the best view of the most inspirational lake.  I took my dog for a walk and thought about that room. Imagining the air was solid, I ran my fingers over the wood of my desk as we walked along. And I thought about what I would write.

And now I am in the kitchen. Writing what I thought about on a walk I had a dream about. You’re in the living room. There’s a candle on stove and it’s a welcomed light in the dark, at the head of the table where we eat, pay bills, drink and fight. I am not far away…as I want to be-lost in another world- warding off dragons and fighting for my life. It is in the middle of the night and we are in the midst of our busy, responsible, active lives that I struggle to find the chance to see a reflection of myself.

The fight and the activity have taken the place of the quiet space I had to run to. I’m at the kitchen table, with you in the next room and I think, “this will do”  ~~For now~~

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She She She

I’m going to write today. I am going to write today. I am going to sit my ass down and write today. I’m going to WRITE right now. I’m not going to try to keep you all abreast…the catch up, the backdrop, whatever happens when I don’t follow-up. I am just going to write. Now! damn it.

(cursor blinks). Eyes blink. Unblinking, I stare. What the hell am I going to write about?

She stood alone, on the sidewalk, violin in hand. Black night, street lamp shining down. Stage light. I didn’t see her there at first.

She played on the street, on my way home. She played in the cold and when I watched her sing, she looked unflinching, back at me. Somehow I heard her – over every other inconsequential thought in my head. I heard her sing over the radio and all it’s noise.

I couldn’t be sure until tonight-until I fought the urge to turn away and recognized the art in her vulnerability I couldn’t be sure, but now I am. We share a secret-her and I.   And it wouldn’t ever be more than a whisper among friends, but as she played there in the dark, cold air and I looked back, I knew this had gone beyond the secrecy of friends.

I say it out loud as the traffic began to move past her. I say, “We are the same.” This girl and I play for people driving, swirling, running past. She with her voice and her violin and me with my words, and every pain stakingly placed line to page.

And there it is. Once spoken, too real to take back. Whatever fear I have is the fear that I’ll lose momentum. I fear my ability to be a player the way she was- on the curb of a busy street on a cold, dark night, playing on the heartstrings of ordinary folk. I no longer fear the disappointment of never having tried.

Tomorrow night I’ll look for the girl singing and playing violin on the corner of State and Main. But tomorrow is a million years away and tonight I’m consumed by the sound of the violin and the cold breath from every word she sang.

Tonight we work together. Tomorrow we compete.

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Working mother compromise..

If I were a stay at home mother, I’d give bj’s like no other.

The house would be clean, dinner cooked. “Here Schnookums, sit down, relax with a book.”

If I stayed home, the kids would be sweet. They’d fight over nothing. Their rooms would be neat.

I’d dress them in clothes you’d know I’d made by hand. Each little collar would have a “domestic” brand.

The things I would do if I were home all day long!

I’d bake pies and cookies and have weekly meal plans. We’d have HBO, Netflix and of course, On-Demand.

I’d wait for your paycheck on bated breath. The thought of your cock would always make me wet.

If I were a housewife your life would be great! You’d be adored and respected. For sex- you’d never wait.

But sadly for you, I’m a working mother. I clock out of one job and start in on another.

No bj’s for you ’til everything’s done. And who am I kidding? Sometimes, you take forever to cum.

There are clothes thrown all over, the dog peed on the rug.  You want a bj? I need a hug.

I work all day long and hate every minute. But my boss said I’m valued. Now I’m in it to win it.

When we were first dating, I promised the world but having a job has jaded this down home girl.

I’m sorry, baby.

Most days you’re forgotten and saved until last.  “Tonight you clean the dishes and I’ll let you do me in the ass.”

TA DA!!

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A suitcase

Once in a while I fall. I stumble because I trip over myself and I fall because my ambitions are aimed to the floor. Once in a while…okay once every couple of weeks the dirty dishes pile up and the smell of rotting chicken and the sand on my feet bothers me. Once in a while…alright, alright–once a day I tell myself I’m not good enough.

There’s a suitcase full of memories packed away in my brain. Every place I’ve Never been is plastered in little stickers on the side. The handle is starting to wobble- I think there’s a string or tie loose. The scratches on the leather are from the bad choices I’ve made along the way and with every wheezing breath the scratches turn to scars. The memories in this suitcase have blurred to tales- corny stories about a girl who had potential but became bitter in her failed attempts to try.

Every once in a while I falter. I break and fall apart. I’m useless beyond my jealous desire to prove them wrong and keep going. Every once in a while… I sigh.  But the breath it takes to breathe a happy thought hurts.

Sometimes I forget that my suitcase is packed and all those memories are ready to go. Weeks– months go by and I assume that the clothes scattered all over my floor have been taken out and are waiting to be put away. They blend into the floor.

But once in a great while that beat-up, overstuffed suitcase catches my eye and I shudder.  The memories, the experiences, the dreams, the goals and a hippie imitation of a girl chasing wildflowers …. she comes back.
And there I am: unfinished and panicked. I’m suddenly stunned by the realization that she’s better than me. I’m frozen by the sadness of it all. I look at my room with finger stained walls and I’m sick by the clothes I’m standing on. They were never unpacked. They were bought along the way- dirty and wrinkled on the floor beneath my feet; these clothes mean nothing to me.

My memories, the ones in my suitcase, define me and they’re glaring at me through the travel case waiting by the front door. They beckon me to leave, but I cannot move. I wait for something to happen; a bang, a crash, a plane landing on my roof…nothing.  I stare. And when I stare I see the things I’ve avoided. I’m overwhelmed.

Once in a while I lose my breath. Every day I catch it. I breathe beyond the nicotine and inhale crisp air. But I know that my past and that hippie girl won’t stay there- uncomfortable and unacknowledged forever. I fear the loss of my overstuffed, unattended travel box. I think that someday my suitcase may sprout legs and leave me here in this haze of memories that will never define me….. those memories were bought along the way~

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Brothers

I’m in the kitchen. The boys are in the living room playing a video game The sweetest thing I’ve ever heard:

Miles (3yrs old) to Chase (8yrs old): You don’t love me.

Chase (8) to Miles (3): Miles, come here and I’ll show you a trick to tell you if I love you.

(Me to myself: Oh God! Please don’t hurt him.)

Miles cautiously makes his way over to Chase.

Chase to Miles: Ok. Feel my heart. Do you feel that? (nod) If you can feel it beating, then that means I love you.

(me-silently sobbing tears of wonder and joy in the kitchen) Oh Meh God. The sweetness is chipping away at my cynical heart.Image

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Learning Curve

Growing up my mom used to tell me that education was my ticket to happiness in this world. She would say that if bagging groceries was what made me happy, it was fine as long as I had made that decision myself.  I did well in school. I had potential. (Que Marlon Brando) “I couldda been a contendah.” As I’ve said before, I’m 29 and have yet to finish my college degree. I took some time off to party which subsequently led to the birth and raising of two children. I waited tables for a long time, taking classes when I could and about two years ago landed a job as a receptionist/legal assistant only a mile away from my apartment. Right now, I’m doing the best I can without an education.

Last Friday I learned the firm is going to be hiring another paralegal.  I panicked. Everything in me told me I had to apply for this job. It made sense. I told my friends and family about it and we all agreed, “being a paralegal is the next, right step.”

I went into work Monday fully intent on handing a partner my revised resume, saying in a throaty, deserved voice, “I’d like to officially apply for the paralegal position.” I went home on my lunch break to put a few finishing touches on the old “list of accomplishments” and “reasons I’m an Ace” paper between bites of a bologna sandwich. I diverted for a minute to check my email and found a new one from my son’s elementary school principal. A week ago I’d asked him if we could set up a time to meet and go over my ideas for organizing a volunteer drama program after school.  He wanted to meet later in the month! I was so excited!! I took a quick glance at my finished product and headed to the office, grinning from ear to ear and ready to tackle my future as a drama instructor! Wait- I was headed back to work to apply for a job as a paralegal…because it was…what am I doing this for?

I was meeting with a partner of the law firm who could easily double as Garrison Keillor from Tales of Lake Wobegon on any given day.  His voice was so deep and soothing that before I could give him my spiel about how I was a good- (cough) the best-candidate for the job I quickly found myself in a trance.  I was looking past him imagining how I would present my ideas to the principal. The first few months of the group would have to be dedicated to terminology, improv, and confidence building. After this I’d have to go online and look for age appropriate plays…

“Ashley. As much as I love telling you about what I had for lunch, you really can’t be this interested.  Is this another one of your morale boosters that correspond with the first letter of the weekday? Today’s Monday, so this would be… Make me talk about lunch while you smile like a schoolgirl day?”

“Uh…  yes. Sorry about that. I was testing it out on you. You think it’s too much? Maybe we’ll wait for a different day of the week.” I went back to my desk, resume in hand. I’m not applying for this stupid job. 

It’s been two days since I made the decision to stick to my original plan: pay off debt, get back to school, and be creative. But I keep feeling like I’ve made a bad financial move for my future. Why am I so full of self doubt when this feels like the best move for me right now? Because I was raised to reach higher. It’s the American culture after all; climb the ladder of success to achieve the dream. stop at nothing-go go go.  I can hear my mom saying, “no one wants to bag groceries for a living Ashley.” 

But I don’t know. I think right now I do.  At this point in my life I’m happy being an observer! I’m a writer, a cartoonist and possibly a drama coach! I have a job with an inspiring cast of characters for any rainy day story I want to write. I’m not a permanent fixture here and I like that. There’s so much pressure at home (bills, kids, family, etc) that sometimes it’s nice to come here and sort through it all.

Maybe people like me, people without that golden ticket (college degree) or a solid plan in place have to be a little more inventive with how we get to where we ultimately want to be. In my case, I have to stop trying to prove to everybody that I’m smart enough, capable enough to make the “right” decisions. Being a paralegal might sound better, but it’s not for me.  For now, achieving my American Dream might mean telling myself to slow down and allow myself the time and space to create. I have to take a deep breath and allow myself to be happy in the moment.

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Schooled by a third grader.

I told Chase to go read for 20 minutes the other night. He started arguing with me about where to read. He couldn’t find a quiet, well lit space in this “whole place.”

I said,” Chase, chose your battles.” When he didn’t respond I explained, “You know, the expression ‘win the battle lose the war?'”

He had stopped in the doorway, with his arms crossed, all weight on one foot and sighed,  “that’s an idiom actually. That’s not an expression. People call that an idiom.”

(I’m scared. What’s happening right now?)

He left the room and I frantically googled idoms. That was embarrassing.

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6 Reasons I am not taken seriously at my job:

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